most important military aircraft ?

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steelypip

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No.2Diesel said:
To sum up... No one model is on top. In a general sense the world's most important military aircraft is: A United States Bomber.
I'm the proud owner of a t-shirt sold to me by the crew of a 2BMW B-52H that visited the local airshow last year. On the back are a B-17, B-29 and B-52 flying in formation (in a Boeing-issue partly-cloudy sky). Above and below are printed: "Flight of the Fortress. Winning America's Wars for 70 Years."

That's hyperbole, of course. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen (and maybe even aviators) win wars. Airplanes are just tools to get the job done, just like a bayonet or a bicycle. Boeing is justifiably loved for building good heavy bombers...even when the ugly Consolidated/Convair/General Dynamics product (B-24) actually dropped more tonnage and had better range and payload than the B-17. I'll note that the B-47 and B-50 are left off the list on the shirt because, I guess, they weren't in a shooting war, or Korea doesn't count (not my idea...).

I'd say 'important' is all about definitions. If 'important' means 'did its job exceptionally well for a long time, even when the job kept changing,and the job really mattered to world history' maybe the BUF does deserve to be high on the list. It, and the B-47 before it were built to prevent WWIII. We didn't have WWIII, which qualifies as mission success. Then, after it was mostly replaced by ballistic missiles, we used it to bomb all kinds of interesting places with iron bombs for the next 35 years, which was definitely not part of the original design parameters. Add in fun projects like launching research aircraft, being modified into a cruise missile platform and an anti-ship missile platform, and you have something like the Swiss army knife of airplanes.

The C-47 likewise holds an important place in world history. I'm certainly not going to argue with Eisenhower on this one. To be fair, though, nobody ever demanded that it start doing pallet drops from 50,000 feet 10 years after introduction, which is the equivalent of the role change required to make a B-52 from a high-altitude strategic nuclear bomber into a low-altitude tactical conventional bomber. The C-47, along with its various offspring like the C-119, C-123, C-130, C-17, etc have contributed to a lot of won battles. But they generally stay pretty close to original design parameters--probably hurricane flying and aircrew rescue for the C-130 are the wildest departure from original design. If the Buf is a swiss army knife, the Gooney bird and its offspring are an assortment of claw, ball-peen, and sledge hammers. Profoundly useful tools, but not quite as versatile. And if the Goon qualifies, why not the Ju-52 or any of the assortment of Antonov heavy lifters?

The UH-1 would basically classify as the rotary-wing equivalent of the goon and its kids, with the same intrinsic usefulness in a land-on-a-spot package. You wouldn't go wrong calling it the 'jeep of the sky.' I don't think it ever won a war, but it probably won a number of battles.

If 'important' means 'history would have been significantly different without this airplane, and there were no competitors that might have filled the gap if it hadn't existed.' I'd say #1 would be the Wright model A, followed by the Ju-87 Stuka, P-39/P-63/IL-2 (killed more panzers than anything else in WWII), B-29 (I estimate that the US war with Japan would have gone on until 1950 without it), B-47/B-52 (same design project, same role - were reliable unlike B-36), U-2, and possibly the XB-70 (the greatest bomber that never was - forced the USSR to design a new soup-to-nuts defense against its never-deployed threat that probably brought economic collapse five years sooner).

Why not the SR-71? Mostly because I don't have public evidence of a world-changing event like the Cuban Missile Crisis attributable to its operation. Why not the C-135? Because it's mostly a revamp of technology developed for the B-47/B-52/367-80 project, and the KC-97 did a not-bad job refueling Stratojets and Bufs before it came along using the same flying-boom technology.
 

Recovry4x4

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A word on B-52s. I'm not sure when they first flew but 1952 comes to mind. My wife is in the Air Force and as such we recieve newsletters all the time. The last one showed a B-52 taking off from Homestead Air Reserve Base in April. One part of the caption that caught my eye was the statement that they are slated to fly until the year 2040. If that pans out folks, thats staying power.
 

ARMYMAN30YearsPlus

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I know I would not be here if the Enola Gay did not drop the nuke on Japan. My father was slated to go in on the invasion forces if we had to invade Japan and if anyone thinks Baghdad is messy try fighting the country that gave us Kamakazi pilots and suicide charges. So to me dispite all the aircraft I have flown in and jumped out of, the B29 made it possible for my Dad to come home and marry my Mom the Army nurse.
 

steelypip

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ARMYMAN30YearsPlus said:
I know I would not be here if the Enola Gay did not drop the nuke on Japan. My father was slated to go in on the invasion forces if we had to invade Japan and if anyone thinks Baghdad is messy try fighting the country that gave us Kamakazi pilots and suicide charges. So to me dispite all the aircraft I have flown in and jumped out of, the B29 made it possible for my Dad to come home and marry my Mom the Army nurse.
You and a lot of other people. Estimated casualties for the amphibious invasion of the Japanese home islands were somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 US and allied forces. The plan involved invading and paving most of Kyushu and fortifying the island as a jumping-off point to the rest of the island chain. B-29s figured prominently in the plan - the massively destructive conventional explosive and firebombing of Japanese cities was so effective that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were specifically exempted from it so that the cities would provide worthwhile test targets for the atomic bombs if their use was approved.

Even if the atomic bombs hadn't been used and the amphibious invasion went forward, the B-29 and the fleet submarine were the only weapons that could reduce Japan's war-fighting ability without putting troops on the ground. I honestly don't know how many more Americans and Japanese might have died without the B-29's ability to bring the war to the Japanese home front before invasion, but I think it's safe to say that the nature of the Pacific war would have been very different if the aircraft had never existed.
 

BKinzey

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I didn't read all the posts but I'm going to say the first ones used. Opened up a whole new era in warfare 8)

Somewhere in there a mention should be made for the guy who figured out how to synchronize the machinegun with the prop :lol: :lol:
 

KaiserM109

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Hmm, you all have good arguments, but you forgot 2 real workhorses, the B-24 Liberator and the P-47 Thunderbolt. The B-24's stats beat the B-17's hands-down and the P-47 beats the P-51 in capacity and ability to soak up lead. The P-47 was super important in D-Day in attacking ground targets. The A-10 Warthog (Thunderbolt II) was named after it as a tribute to its ground support role in WWII.

There’s one cool machine that bears mention, the Dehaveland Caribou. They hopped all over Nam for the Army.

In the end, I gotta go with vtdeucedriver on Vietnam. The last 2 aircraft I flew in country were the UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) and the C-130 Hercules, in that order, on a stretcher. There are a lot of dudes alive today because of those 2 machines. The Huey got the wounded out of the field in a hurry and the Hercules got them to 1st rate facilities in a hurry.
 

co_rotorhead

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The Huey - naturally. Unless you consider the horse an aircraft! Nothing works or sounds like a Huey. Not only is the UH-1 about as dependable and reliable as they come, few things have revolutioned the modern battlefield. Not to mention saving the lives of countless wounded soldiers. Gotta love the Huey!
 

Gryphon

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Curtis JN-4

Ok, so it's not a defininative warplane, just a trainer...but a trainer that did it's job well, served with the Signal Corps and went on as a surplus vehicle to spread the love of aviation all over the country, influencing people like Charles Lindberg and many others.

I agree with about all of those listed, tho I have my own faves, like the Hawker Hurricane, the F4-U and the F-4.

I get to drive thru Davis-Monthan from time to time and nearly wreck each time rubbernecking at the boneyard and mothball feilds. Better when the wife drives, I get to look safely!
 
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